It's the summer of 1932, and it's time to go to work. But unfortunately, there's no work to go to. It's been like this a couple of years now. There were problems with the economy before, but it all came crashing down (no pun intended) on October 29, 1929. Job was lost shortly thereafter, and the house went right after that. Home now is a shantytown in a vacant lot in New York City. Find meals in the garbage cans when the bread lines are too long. Life's even harder for a lot of other people, out in the Dust Bowl and other parts of the country. Life during the Great Depression was difficult for almost everybody in America, no matter where the came from.
In the cities, families were thrown out onto the streets and left to fend for themselves. Shantytowns were erected all around major cities, with shacks built out of scraps of anything that could be found lying around. Banks were shut down all over the place, taking with them the bank accounts of the clients who watched helplessly as their life savings slipped right through their fingers. One of these people was a man named Donner, who had owned and operated a successful printing business up until 1931. "The Chicago bank that went under early in November, 1929 paid only 30% of the total deposits" (Donner, page 1). Donner remained above many other families who fell into poverty for a while, but was eventually forced to move to Dubuque, with his wife's parents, to find work. Food was scarce in cities, as vegetables and many other items had to be brought in from outside, where the crops hadn't been doing so well. Soup kitchens and "82 badly managed breadlines"(Bird, page 201) were established to try and put a dent in the famine faced by urban populations. A reporter from a New York newspaper suggested a central warehouse where more fortunate people could send leftovers to be distributed, and other ideas of that nature surfaced, but none really took off, although charity did feed a lot of people during this time.